Claustrophobia and turbulence put passengers on edge
I was waiting for a plane out of Minneapolis when I overheard the wise words of a passenger responding to the fears of an anxious flier. “Did you enjoy the first leg of your flight?” the nervous passenger asked her travel companion. An enthusiastic Yes! was the response. “But weren’t you afraid?” the first passenger asked. “No,” the other one said.
“Well, why not?”
“Mom,” the young boy reasoned—he couldn’t have been more than six years old—“planes are made to fly!”
Planes are made to fly. Well, never underestimate the astute observations of a child! And he was right, yet according to Captain Lim, a pilot who hosts a website where he answers questions to help passengers overcome their fear of going from point A to B in an aluminum capsule 30,000 feet above the earth, one in six air travelers in the United States is afraid to fly . These passengers typically experience feelings of nausea, rapid heartbeat, and sweating, before and during the flight.
Statistics abound that say there’s no reason to be afraid to fly. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the risk of death in an airline accident between the years of 1999-2003 was 1 out of 2,067,000 . Many a statistician has pointed out that fliers have a greater chance of dying in a car accident on their way to the airport, rather than in the plane itself.
Nonetheless, when the door closes and passengers are confined to that tiny space along with dozens of other people, or when turbulence starts to wobble the plane as if it’s a glob of jello, some fliers worry that they’re about to end up on the wrong side of the statistics—among the fatalities.
According to www.anxieties.com, claustrophobia, turbulence, bad weather and feeling out of control are a few of the reasons that some passengers travel on pins and needles. To a lesser degree, the idea of flying over water, being far away from loved ones, taking off or landing is enough to upset anxious travelers.
So how can apprehensive fliers face their fears, deal with them, and ultimately find the strength to board an airplane? Educating one’s self is always a good way to combat anxieties. Knowledge is power. Talk to a pilot or flight attendant, read up on the techniques aircraft engineers utilize to ensure that jetliners are safe, and get to know the routine sounds associated with flight (e.g., the retracting of the landing gear or the extension of the flaps).
Airplanes are designed such that they can take a tremendous amount of stress. To test the strength and flexibility of its wings, engineers attached cables to the wings of a Boeing 777 and pulled upwards, lifting the wings about 24 ft. in the air before they broke . The test demonstrates that the aircraft can tolerate much more pressure than it would ever face thanks to strong winds in flight.
Article by Christine Hucko.